[Editorial] Strengthening our military discipline first

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[Editorial] Strengthening our military discipline first

 The breakdown of the military discipline of our armed forces spilled over to the navy. Following the uninterrupted infiltration of North Korean drones across the border last December, another case of lax military discipline in the navy has been disclosed. In the face of mounting security threats from North Korea’s nuclear weapons, the navy’s nonsensical behavior makes us dumbfounded.

The shameful case occurred at sea. While patrolling in the southern seas in June 2022, the captain and four sailors aboard a 1,500-ton frigate reported an equipment failure to its headquarters. But that turned out a lie. The vessel hurriedly returned to the naval base in Jeju Island, but no technical glitches were found.

The captain of the ship is being investigated by the Naval Command after he allegedly attended a farewell and inauguration ceremony for his superiors just three hours after the ship anchored at a port there. Despite some inconsistency in the statements from officers involved in the scam, we are shocked at the way the captain behaved in the lead-up to the fake report and the following port entry. The navy says another frigate replaced the ship to continue the mission. But what if the North made provocations against the South in the meantime?

The frigate FF-957, commissioned in 1988, is a vessel from the Second Fleet. The ship took part in the first battle of Yeonpyeng in 1999 and the battle of Daecheong in 2009 against North Korean attacks — and won. The frigate was reassigned to the Third Fleet since 2018 before it was decommissioned in December last year. After the captain tainted the proud history of the ship with a fake report, that sounds loud alarms over military discipline and security posture.

Last June was only a month after the conservative Yoon Suk Yeol administration started. The military must strongly punish the captain for his lax discipline. In a meeting with top brass on Monday, Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reprimanded top commanders across the board for their laidback security posture and urged them to change their training methods first. “Generals are not a position to boast of,” he said. However, could the off-track discipline be restored by his scolding alone?

South Korea and the United States held a defense minister meeting on Tuesday to mark the 70th year of the Armistice and the 70th year of the alliance. After concerns arose over the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, 76.6 percent of South Koreans supported our own nuclear armaments in a poll. Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup reportedly asked his U.S. counterpart to come up with a reliable methodology on reinforcing the U.S. nuclear deterrence. But its seems that augmenting our military discipline is more urgent than demanding Uncle Sam protect us.
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